Monday, July 29, 2013

Let There Be Summer.... (and a recipe)

Damp mid-summer breeze falls fresh on my skin.

According to the calender it's late summer for the kids and school will begin in a few weeks, but I'm fighting the low tide of summers passing. 

These mornings... they have a smell of their own.

Fresh air and freshly mowed grass.

Beads of dew on knockout roses and wide-mouthed daylilies, 

Swimsuits, sunglasses, and slip-n-slides. Cold water splashing on bronzed shinning faces, ice cream, food on the grill, and bicycles.

I'm so grateful for bicycles and summer wind on my face. 

Summer is baseball being played out on ten thousand fields of green, lapping water on the edge of the lake shore, blue sky dotted with feather-like clouds and swings flying high, like an enchanting elevator that could take a child high enough to touch the sky. 

It is tomatoes, cucumbers and zucchini from the garden, and corn on the cob from the local market.

Right now its an obsession with bacon, tomato, slathers of real mayonnaise, capped with organic romaine lettuce, all stacked on whole wheat toast.

Please pause for a collective... "awwwww yes please!"

Or a bacon-tomato salad.

Or just the bacon.

Or just the tomato. 

Summer is too short and sweet with unbridled fresh happiness.

Recently, Chocolate-Covered Katie had a recipe that is apparently famous to everyone but me. Find it here?

I had never heard of the "Dole Whip" which is found in only a few places, the most famous being,  Aloha Island near the Tiki Room in Disney’s Magic Kingdom. 

The rumor is, that it originated at the Dole Pineapple Plantation

Did I mention I want to go here?

Oh my!

Since that seems unreasonable at this time, I set out to try my hand at the recipe to at least visit these places with my taste-buds.  

Sorry for the poor picture, but my family was slurping down the goodness
before I could snap a decent shot.
They really are that good and satisfying. 

Homemade Dole Whip Recipe

2 cups frozen pineapple
1/4 cup milk of choice (Try canned coconut milk for piƱa colada soft serve!)
1/16 tsp salt
pinch pure stevia extract, or 2 tbsp sugar of choice
scant 1 tbsp lemon juice

Rhonda Quaney's Version
(who loves chocolate too)

One Can Coconut Milk (found in the Chinese Cuisine Section)

2 Cups Frozen Fruit
(we use pineapple, strawberries, cherries and sometimes blueberries)

1 Package Stevia (in the raw or liquid)

Depending on the consistence you like, a little water can be added, to make the shake thinner or more frozen fruit to make thicker. 

I do love this with only frozen pineapple and coconut milk. 

It is amazing with the other frozen fruit, especially strawberries.

Blend and enjoy!

It tastes like summer to me!

For a chocolate fix I've done this:

1 cup Coconut Milk
2 tbs Unsweetened Cocoa
1 cup ice
2 packages Stevia in the Raw

Sometimes you have to add a little more ice.


Note: This is good for you with no sugar crash. 

I actually drive by the ice cream places and
come home to make my own summer treats.

Thankful for all these sights, sounds
and flavors of summer.

Linking up today with Ann Voskamp.

Swing Photo Credit  

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Monday, July 22, 2013

What Will They Remember?

As the signal on my radio and more disturbingly, the cell phone fade, so do the towns and homes that can be seen. The navigate feature on my phone, it just spins, looking for something that it isn't able to find. 

Here cattle outnumber citizens four hundred to one, there are horses stomping flies and a few sandhill turtles who think they have all day to cross the road.

The odometer says I'm making slow progress. Miles tick by with minutes, on this endless ribbon of road. 

Somewhere I've read, that folks believed these hills were nothing more than desert wasteland. At the time people came looking for a place to call their own, it was advertised as,  "the land of milk and honey" as well as  "the garden state of the West” and it was said that the soil was "a rich, black, loam." (a)

Those things were mostly untrue.

Still, they were just giving the land away in 1904.

Indeed, people stood in line for days to file claims, because you could just have 360 acres of  land.

All for free. If it didn't cost you every single thing you had.

As I climb each hill and drop down into the valley, which is followed by another hill, another valley, just about like the one before, I'm thinking this: the west may have been settled, but the wild vastness remains.

My friends, ...they live, (...count them?) thirteen cattle gates, past the last unincorporated town. Their roots and blood run deep, in this wild, wild west soil.

They know who their people were and still tell their brave stories. 

His great grandpa was only nine when he and the eleven year old brother were dropped off to care for and protect livestock here. These boy-men often went months alone. Great grandpa Russell could ride a wild horse with only a grip on the mane. He was the original bronc rider and was known for his honesty and hard work. 

Her great grandpa lived down in the river valley. A runaway who arrived in the area when he was about twelve. He didn't talk much about it, except that his step-mom and he didn't get along. He learned to speak several dialects of the Native Americans, which means that he spent time with them, since life was the only school you could attend for those kind of lessons.

He worked as a scout in the day of Buffalo Bill and the Pony Express. When Civil War broke out, he fought in the 1st Volunteer Infantry of our state. Great grandfather Issac, he was standing under the podium, when Abraham Lincoln delivered his Gettysburg Address. That lanky, humble, President, poured his heart and words out to the masses of history, and her great grandfather was there to let them run over his soul. He must have believed the words too, that there are things worth fighting for like, "....true equality for all this nations citizens."  

My friends, their ancestors were men and women who sang and lived an anthem of bravery. They came with their pockets empty and their hearts full of hope, that there was more to life than what they had known so far. Folks who survived against all odds, who dug their feet and fingernails into this wild place and hung on for more life. 

They had dreams of land, freedom for all and living a great adventure.

They weren't looking for awards to put on a shelf or notoriety printed in a paper. These honest folks, believe in the golden rule, that good fences make good neighbors, that children should honor their parents, husbands should love their wives like they love themselves, that hard work will reap a reward and that you fly the flag and ring the bell and remember who went before you and paid the price, to establish the things enjoyed now. 

Where stage coaches crossed 

She says this and it's truth rocks me: "Everyday I get up and do all that I can, the best that I can. Then I sleep well at night knowing that God will take care of the rest."

Read that again?

My friend. She knows some truth. Some truth that we could all live more of. And if we did, perhaps there would be less worry, stress, grabbing for things that may have never been ours to have.

Men and women, they tamed this land as much as a wild place can be tamed. They wandered into the wilderness, to build on something that was bigger than life.

They know this truth too well.

How fragile it all is.

They know how we are all, just one hail storm, one year of drought, one flash flood, one tornado, one wild fire, one car accident, one flight for life, one phone call from destruction. 

Unless the Lord sustains us.

There are things we can control.

There are more that we can't.

Here in this place, I can see the invisible face of God.

Deep green fields, with long haired strands of hay, stacked on the day when the sun cured it to perfection. Straight, spiky, hand tightened fence, uncoils for miles, like an open string instrument, tuned to pitch perfection. Meadowlarks seem to think it was strung just for them, as they clutch it, singing out their familiar warbled flute song, in melody with the beauty. 

This land rich with large, white-faced cactus poppies, royal stems of prairie clover, cone flowers pressing their faces to the sky,  hearty stands of delicate flowering phlox, and tender pink prairie rose lay tucked in the lush display of beauty.

Here the sky breaths out deep hues of blue and lavender, with endless brush strokes of silk white and pink blush colored clouds against the vast canvas of the plains. This paradise where horses run wide open with nostrils flaring as they drink in the oxygen of life, and where cattle graze on a thousand hills, in stirrup high, native grasses. 

It feels close to heaven here.

It's as if I can hear the voices of those who have gone before us too.

Those brave beautiful souls.

My friends live like their forefathers before them, doing ten thousand small things a day that add up to the great things. 

Mostly they live love.

Love for each other, for the land, for the things in their care.

And the One who is Love, is certainly pleased to have stewards like them taking care of this ocean floor of unrestrained, untamed, beauty.  

Their forefathers, our "four score and seven years ago" forefathers, they knew it was about the going, it was about the doing the next thing well. It was about the journey and not so much of the arriving and the being settled in.

We are all like that. People looking for a place to settle in and just arrive. Except this. No matter how settled we think we are, we are all just passing through this life.

This is not our home. We can't keep what is destined to pass away. 

Yet while we are here we live in the wildness, the beauty, the real riches, of being in the presence of His Presence.

The men and women who lived lives and left legacies remind me that today, it is important to live this life well, and to live for what will last.

The lasting, will be what we do, in Jesus Name.

When we are gone, what will people remember about us?

Thank you for the soul retreat Gary and Glenda.
Love and respect you both so deeply.
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Monday, July 15, 2013

{Blog}-i-ver-sary and {7 Things I've Been Learning}

String up the banners and bring out the balloons!

It's an official celebration around here.

Conservative estimates, suggest, that there are over 240 million blogs, currently out there in the blogosphere.

So, adding my voice to all the on-line noise with the masses, just seems crazy, even today. 

I'd go so far as to say, it was a little bit like running and then swinging off a rope, into the large, cold lake of faith and landing with a splash!

Here are some reflections on what I've been learning from blogging, writing and all that has come with that. 

1. Sometimes in life, you have to just go for it: 
The world of blogging is vast. My knowledge is small. To get this little home on the web up and running was an act of God really. The details and the design and the how-to's and the what-next, of it all. If I had waited until I had it all figured out.... well you would not be reading this. :]

Do you have something in your life you need to quit over-thinking and just step out into the swirling unknown water and do? Can I give you a small encouraging push? 

I wasn't really ready. There was no seven point plan or long range written goals. 

Some days I think there is absolutely not another thing to say, but then ideas and words start bubbling out of my heart and head, which causes me to scribble notes onto crumpled slips of paper and talk in to my phone notes, which looks like I'm talking to myself. And really. I am. 

2. I've been living and dreaming out loud:
It really wasn't me, stating  in so many words, "Hey, I have this dream, to have a blog, to write about hard touchy things, happy silly things, and what all Grace has done in my life so far."


Like most of you, I'd really rather keep all the messy stuff to myself. And honestly, I'd rather be comfortable and do what is easy. All. the. time.   I did however, have a burning, relentless idea, that I was suppose to weave words into stories and for several years fought the drag and pull to a blog, as a way that could happen. 

3. Story is important: 
E-v-e-r-y-o-n-e has a story and I believe that stories are to be shared. I also believe that the things we live through, well, they are important. There is this ridiculous idea that we present our good face to the world. On social media it is easy to only post the cool stuff. Where we are eating at amazing places, going to beautiful locations and editing our photos so only our best side is public.

But when we talk about the real stuff. The raw stuff. When we are transparent about the reality of our lives and what we are learning, there is someone who can relate and we can process the lessons. There is someone who needs to hear some honest things to put salve on their own souls.

So many times, I have wrestled with a post or subject matter. Once it was written I'd shake my head and think how I did not want to write about that thing. Within minutes of pushing "publish" the e-mails would come or comments posted, saying how they "needed to hear that today".

Who wants a friend that has it all together? You and I both need friends that can walk this messy often times hard life, together. Each of us is living a story. My prayer is that we each live a better story because we are doing it together. 

4. Writing is risky:
Yes. Some people don't like me or get what this place is for.
That is SO okay! Because for every one of those people, there are others that do get it and walk away encouraged in their everyday sort of life. This writing has made me more bold. It has made me more courageous. It has made me feel more alive. It has been worth the risk.  

5. There is a cost and a process:
Blogging has cost me more than I bargained for most days.

There is a price tag of time, talent, and resources.

I've stayed up half the night and gotten up in the middle of the night to write. I've locked myself in my office for hours, I've prayed hard, and I've lined the keyboard with Kleenex and cried hard.  So often I will feel the writing is flat, unimportant and silly, then suddenly things will spill out onto the screen that surprise me. There is a sense when it is done. So then I release it to the world wide web. The goal is try not to think about, who will read it, or how they will receive it.

I have to trust that it is not mine anymore. There have been times when I go back and read something I've written, to marvel that I could have ever been the one to tap that out on a computer. 

God is about the journey. God is about the process.

There is time and beauty in the learning and the heart change process. To embrace each day, each post, each soul-lesson is what this is about for me. 

6. This blog is a God-thing not a networking thing: 
Mary DeMuth  said this: "Theologian Frederick Buechner wrote: “Vocation is where our greatest passion meets the world’s greatest need.” I would add to that: our ministry is the intersection of our passion and the world’s greatest need." 

Yes. I believe that women (and a few brave men here) need to hear more real things about what Jesus is doing in the world. 

Many people know who I was and what I was like. Then I met Jesus. Now I am unapologetic about my passion for Him. 

Because of that encounter I have been on the the craziest wild ride of my life, embracing freedom, joy and the reality that all His promises are yes in that beautiful name. Jesus.  

My passion is for women seeing themselves beautiful, to walk in freedom and to live the life God designed us for. 

I'm passionate about living a good story in my real life.

7. My tribe.. my people... my readers... :

That's you. 

(imagine... me grinning at you)

Imagine too, how shocked I am every time I happen to notice the stats. Numbers are not my thing, but they are there.

My beginning hope was that someone would read the words. No one could have prepared me for the fact that thousands of people would read my blog every single month. 

That melts my heart. 

Hearing from you. Meeting you. Knowing you.

It has made my world bigger.

It has made my world smaller.

Meeting some of you in person and many of you virtually. You beautiful women from other towns, states, providences and countries has amazed me. Gifted, tender, humble, women, reaching across invisible lines of technology, through the veil of the computer screen
-to connect hearts.

Each one of you are so unique. Each of us have so much common ground. Wanting to be less of who we were and more of what God intends us to be. 

You are the reason I stepped out into the big crazy blogosphere. It has less to do with me and more to do with how much Jesus loves you and wants to wrap His arms around you. 

I pray you always feel that kind of love and embrace here. 

And can I just thank you?

This blog home, this writing here, this thing that you have been part of with me, it has served to wake up part of my soul.

It has helped me process some hard things and live my faith more vibrantly.

Thank you for your kindness and deep grace.

Thank you for reading, for commenting and for loving me.

You have made, coming out of my little blog closet and waking up the writer in my soul easier. 

Yes. Thank you.

Thank you.... for walking with me these days here at my little happy blog home on the web. 

The home of my heart.

→  ♥  ←

So with no further a-do and a small happy drum roll please.......

I'm so excited that I'm having a giveaway!

To be entered, just subscribe to blog updates.

So easy!

On the sidebar labeled "follow by e-mail!" -----→

 That's it.

 Here are the cool things I'm giving away this week!

Photo Credit

Day Spring Photo

Signed copy from Emily T. Wierenga

Shauna Niequist

Remember, just sign up to receive updates.

Today, too... would you like to leave a comment?

Without a doubt, one of the best things about a blog is hearing from you.

Love you to bits and pieces!

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Monday, July 8, 2013

Celebration & {Homemade Ice Cream Recipe}

Some days seem to swell with more life and love.

Days when all your senses are engaged, making you feel awake and alive. 

It was a day like that. Tables loaded with fresh fruits, tender grown vegetables, dips and desserts, things marinated, sauteed and grilled. People who had long known each other and others who were becoming new soul friends. All mixed together with laughter, water, sun, cold drinks and all the quirks and kinks of humanity. 

Folks that were grateful  and loved each other for who they are and who they aren't. 

People who came to embrace life for this day set aside to celebrate.

When the sun had melted low in the sky and food had been over indulged, we turned our chairs and eyes to heaven to watch the show of exploding light.

There was laughter and sweet chatter while every corner of dark was exposed, with bursts of light. Rings of florescent colors were placed on children's heads, and they danced while making wide brushstrokes of light with flaming sticks.

Daddy's holding tired, tousle headed babies, mommies carrying sacred life within them, hard working men that love their wives and women who want to embrace all that God made them to be, because what they do every single day matters.

But today is a day to celebrate.

Moonlight back-lighting kind of celebration that ignites a sense of contentment, gratefulness, fullness in a soul. 

Yes. Celebration makes you feel full with life.

-  -  -  -  -  -  -

Today I want to share our families homemade ice cream recipe. 

There are differing opinions about using eggs in ice cream. All I can tell you is that we use fresh farm eggs and have done this as far back as I can remember. To date no one has died, unless it was from happiness from eating it. 

Keep celebrating life friends. 

Photo Credits A Moment Photography

♥ • ♥ • ♥ • ♥ • ♥ • ♥ • ♥

Next week I will be celebrating too!

It's the anniversary of this blog!

I'm so excited that I'm having a giveaway!

To enter, make sure you subscribe to blog updates.

It's easy.

Just look on the sidebar labeled "follow by e-mail!"

 That's it.

 Here are a few of the cool things I'm giving away!

Photo Credit

Day Spring Photo

There will be a few more things added to the giveaway, to bless you for being a blessing to me.

Just sign up to receive updates. 

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© Rhonda Quaney